Objective: To investigate the relationship between helical and coccoid forms of Helicobacter pylori and gastric epithelial cells.
Methods: Gastric antral and body biopsies were obtained from eight children, aged 10-17 yr, who underwent diagnostic gastroscopy. Specimens were processed for electron microscopy. The location of organisms and ultrastructural features were assessed with a transmission electron microscope.
Results: We observed two morphological forms of bacteria in three of eight H. pylori-positive patients. Helical forms were localized only in the proximity to unchanged or variously damaged mucous cells, but coccoid forms were present only above strongly damaged epithelial cells.
Conclusion: Coccoid forms of H. pylori are closely associated with damaged gastric mucous cells. Possible explanations for this phenomenon are discussed.